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writer...performer...sometime pop-up cinema host.

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Monday, 24 October 2011

The Power of the Brain

This weekend saw the opening of Look Back In Anger at The Oast Theatre in Tonbridge. There's me, leaning over the table about to start off on a rant about my dying father or something. It's a brilliant play and the cast are all fantastic but what I find amazing at times is our brains capacity for holding information.
For Look Back In Anger, John Osborne wrote huge chunks of dialogue for the two main characters. Long soliloquies that delve into the hearts of Jimmy Porter and his wife as they both reflect on their individual suffering. As an actor, remembering the lines is something that we all acknowledge 'just happens'. How does it happen though, how do you reach that point where everything is in there, stored short-term and released when required. Even when a bit is skipped the brain still manages to filter through and get you to the point that you need to be.
There is no magic to it. I know an awful lot of people who say 'I could never remember all of that', the truth is they could if they had to.

After watching Derren Brown the other night I wondered if it was a form of hypnosis. It sort of makes sense that we, as actors, put ourselves into a mild hypnotic state to become the character we are playing. After all, most actors do not know exactly what happened during a performance, the body seems to move and the mouth seems to talk as if it were being controlled by some higher power. Perhaps that is the magic and that we have conditioned ourselves to become slightly hypnotised, preferring to refer to it as being 'in the zone'.
Whatever it is and however it could be explained it happens. The nerves kick in the and the adrenalin pushes you onwards. weeks of rehearsal flow out of your body and the audience sit still, breathing it all in.
I quite like the idea that I have placed myself into a hypnotic state; or that I am releasing my subconscious and giving it the room it needs to take control. After all, most creative people do that anyway and it is the conscious mind that fears the outcome.

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